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Consumers Demand GE Food Labelling

Media Release
15 May 2000

Consumers Demand GE Food Labelling

Consumers' rights must form a central part of any GE food labelling regime, Consumer Affairs Minister Phillida Bunkle told the Food Technology Forum in Auckland today.

She told the conference that the Government was committed to a GE food labelling regime.

"There will be a GE labelling scheme and as far as I'm concerned this must be implemented in the near future rather than later," she said.

Although New Zealand and Australian authorities are still formulating a joint food standard code which would incorporate GM foods, Ms Bunkle said it was important for governments and industry to remember consumers in any decision-making process.

She said that the NZ benchmark for consumer-satisfaction on the issue already existing within the spirit of the Fair Trading Act.

"Ultimately any NZ labelling regime must stand up to the consumer information requirements of the Fair Trading Act.

"The ordinary Kiwi wants to know whether the food … they are buying, contains GE material or not."

Ms Bunkle said consumers also wanted to know whether GE had been used in the production of foods. She issued a firm warning to industry members resistant to a strict labelling regime.

"There are those within the industry who have advocated for a self-administered regime – a voluntary code of practice. Quite frankly, I don't believe this idea has any merit."

ENDS

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